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Union election had little to do with ‘democracy’

December 9, 2011
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

A Minnesota judge this week ordered a halt to an election related to unionizing thousands of Minnesota child care workers. As a legal matter, we will let the judge's order speak for itself. He said the unionization issue should have gone through the Legislature rather than been prompted by Gov. Mark Dayton's executive order. Dayton says he respects the judge's decision. But apparently not its spirit.

Dayton plans to consider his next steps, arguing that "in a democracy, people should have rights to elections to determine their own destinies." But that contradicts what Dayton's order actually would have done. Under it, only 4,300 daycare providers - those licensed to receive state subisides to care for low-income children - would have voted in the union election. The 6,700 who do not receive such subsidies would have had no say.

Ostensibly, a daycare union could flex more muscle in St. Paul when it comes to negotiating with the state over subsidy rates or regulations related to in-home care. But would such as union fairly represent the 6,700 workers who did not vote and perhaps did not want such representation?

And then there's the politics. How much of what Dayton tried to do relates to payoffs to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and to the Service Employees International Union, both of which have been seeking the daycare union vote for years? When Dayton wielded his executive power in this case in an arbitrary way, it really opened him up for such criticism.

This daycare union matter was sketchy from the start. We're glad a judge has put the issue back into the hands of more than just one politician.



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